You must die. You know that. It is natural for the elderly to fear death, and natural for their beloved to mourn them. However, it is insane to think that the elderly must not die. After all, the only alternative to dying old is to die young. But insane or not, that is the idea that has driven the bulk of health care spending for 40 years. It has also become an unspoken policy for much of the health care industry that profits from that spending. The leading cause of death in the U.S. continues to be Old Age, but Old Age doesn't get any credit anymore. Doctors have quietly banned it as an acceptable diagnosis.
This lunacy, like so many others, was caused by government. It happened in the usual way: a government program removed shopping from consuming. (See Lesson 11). Shopping is the process of conducting subconscious cost/benefit judgements. It is the thinking part of consuming. Without it, we consume like animals. Since Medicare was introduced, Americans have engaged in a mindless pursuit of longevity with staggering expense and awful return. The average health care expenditure in 1980 was $1,102 per person; in 2005 it was $6,649. * Much of that was through Medicare, where annual payments (not costs) rose to almost $8,000 per recipient.** For all that, in the same period, the average life expectancy of a senior citizen went up only 2.3 years.***
If you think that sounds fine, it's probably because you have lost the perspective that comes with paying for things directly. Think of it this way: Over a life-time, the average American manages to make enough to buy a home. But you earn almost enough to buy two. We spend $25,000 in health care just in the last year of life. All that money doesn't come from the rich. We could not spend that much if we took every dime from every CEO. It comes from raising your cost of living in a thousand little ways (see Lesson 2). If you want that kind of deal, great. I'd rather buy a boat and die at home. We have different priorities.
It has been a sight to see so many conservative celebrities recently championing Medicare and championing immortality. There are two good reasons that they do: 1. The current seniors have no options. They have paid their boat without a choice. An abrupt redistribution of funds, as currently being proposed by the Democrats, would kill senior citizens. It took us 45 years to get in this situation. It will take decades to get out properly. 2. The alternative is worse. Instead of returning money to us so that we may shop, Democrats are instead planning to do the shopping for us. They will decide our priorities by committee and bureau. They will calculate our cost/benefit analyses using tables, equations and regulations. They'll do it even in matters of life and death.